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Ban on vehicles at Angkor enforced to preserve site

Siem Reap and Apsara Authority officials in charge of the Angkor temple conservation area that covers more than 400 hectares have implemented a temporary ban of buses carrying more than 24 people into the Angkor Wat area.

Owners of such vehicles have complained that the ban will lead to a loss of tourism revenue.

Sources at Apsara who asked not to be named told the Post yesterday that the ban came into force after provincial authorities made an announcment in late January.

In anticpation of the an influx of tourists ahead of Khmer New Year, Apsara began enforcing the ban as of March 11.

Authorities say that, after the impact of floods and the sheer number of tourists passing through the temple, they had no choice but to bring in the measure.

Authories said: “We found that the large number of trucks caused traffic jams lasting from two to five hours.”

The temporary notice will also apply to Angkor Thom temple at the enterance at Tonle Oum’s Gate. Small and medium-size vehicles, such as motorbikes and cars, can enter as normal, he said.

In the future the ban may be extended to the whole Angkor area because tourist numbers are increasing by 20 to 25 per cent each year.

He added: “We will manage the traffic at all temples. If plans go smoothly, we can support not just two million, but three or four million tourists in the future.”

Sou Phirin, governor of Siem Reap province, issued a notice on January 30 stating that 24-seat vehicles driving from Bayon temple to the south gateway are required to park in front of Angkor Wat temple after dropping off passengers at Bakheng temple.

The Siem Reap International Airport-based Tourism Transportation Association’s Kim Phally said his association has 325 driver members, and, while their cars were not affected by the latest ban, he was concerned that his members might be affected by any further restrictions.  

He said that authorities had previously banned 35-seat buses, and having now done the same to 24-seat vehicles he was concerned the next step would be to ban 15- or 12-seat vehicles.

“If they implement things this way, driver revenues will drop, which will have an impact on their income and make things hard for them,” he said, adding that “they [authorities] should have discussions to consider other sources for revenue for drivers”.

According to government figures, Cambodia received 3.58 million foreign tourists in 2012.

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